White Paper, 1971

White Paper, 1971 The White Paper published by the Government of Pakistan on 5 August 1971 contains the explanation and description of the actions taken by the military government from the night of 25 March 1971. The purpose of publishing the White Paper was to justify the actions of the Pakistan military authority from the night of 25 March and to relate incidents prior to the War of Liberation. This was intended to justify the stand of the government of Pakistan at home and abroad. In the White Paper, Pakistan tried to assert justification for the genocide, destructive actions and crimes on the one hand and efforts were made to distort facts through negative presentation of the role of the Awami League, including its leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other leaders and activists in the war of liberation on the other.

The White Paper contains an introduction, conclusion, appendices and four chapters. In these chapters events prior to 1971, the role of the freedom lovers including the Awami League in the freedom fighting and the stand taken by the Government of Pakistan in this issue are discussed. It is clear from the statement made in the introduction that the white paper was published by the government of Pakistan as a face saving measure to their misdeeds. It relates, 'This White Paper is the first full detailed report of the present critical situation of East Pakistan. The present crisis is the outcome of failure to reach a consensus by the elected public representatives about the basic agenda to form a federation due to the adverse attitude of the leaders of the Awami League. The Awami League leaders tried to turn the peoples' verdict in favour of autonomy into a cessationist movement. In these introductory sentences the Awami League was held responsible for the cessation despite the good intention of the government of Pakistan to hand over power. But such allegations are not supported by the events that happened during those days.

The first chapter deals with the promulgation of the martial law by Yahya Khan on 26 March 1969 in the context of political agitation against the Constitution since 1962. Plausible arguments were put forward about the sincerity of Yahya Khan to implement democracy, election of 1970, and the sincerity and impartiality of the military government in this election. Full details of the Legal Framework Order are incorporated in the White Paper. The non-cooperation movement led by the Awami League since the election till 15 March 1971 and efforts to establish 'Bangabhumi' or 'Bangladesh' during this period by the Awami League are discussed in details. About the non-cooperation movement it is said in the White Paper that the call for strikes and demonstration of terror by the Awami League paralyzed the normal life of the whole of East Pakistan. This led to the quick deterioration of the law and order situation. The chapter is closed with the description of an interview of Sheikh Mujib given to the Times. In it he said about the West Pakistanis that, 'I shall cripple them and shall force them to bow down'. The debate that is made from different corners about the declaration of independence is thus clearly resolved and that the independence was declared by Shaikh Mujib clearly emerges from this part of the White Paper.

In the second chapter events from March 15 to 25 of 1971 are narrated and efforts to establish Bangladesh by the Awami League and Shaikh Mujib are reported. Even a plan of armed revolution by the Awami League in the morning of 26 March is also mentioned. It is told that the government of Pakistan launched the military operation to avoid this untoward situation and to maintain the solidarity of Pakistan. The Awami League wanted to establish a separate 'Bangladesh' state through this plan. Needless to say this tantamount to finish the aims for which Pakistan was established by the Father of the Nation (Mohammad Ali Jinnah).

In the third chapter a description is given of how a reign of terror was let loose in East Pakistan by the Awami League. According to the White Paper the Awami League operated a large scale terrorist activity from March 1 to 15 on the non-Bangalis in Dhaka and at other places of the country. It tried to establish the fact by quoting from various dailies that the Bangalis conducted a mass killing. The Bengalees killed 180 women and children in Chittagong although other sources do not testify to the incidents.

In the fourth chapter the role of India in Pakistan crisis is discussed. India's role in supplying arms and providing training to the freedom fighters, formation of the government in exile, and creation of public opinion in favour of Bangladesh in international arena are described in details. In conclusion it said that all efforts and moves of the Government of Pakistan failed because of the non-cooperation of the Awami League and the Bangalis. It was because of this reason that the government was forced to take resort to very extreme measure, i.e military operation.

In the appendices there are excerpts from the policy making speech of President Yahya Khan, the Legal Framework Order 1970, Six points of the Awami League, different directives of the Awami League and Draft Declaration (March 1971), the Constitution of the People's Republic of Pakistan 1962, and a list of major killings. In the last appendix it is alleged that the Bangalis killed about sixty thousand Biharis although this was not found true from the writings of the generals and politicians of Pakistan.

Bangali leaders and the government in exile denounced the White Paper. To save her face the Pakistan Government published the White Paper after long five months into the war only to humiliate the Awami League before the world and to prove the war of independence as a cessationist movement and a civil war. Hence this White Paper can be termed as a document of false information and misrepresentation of facts. Efforts to suppress the facts by wrong information and statements actually helped unearth the facts, the reality. It had no acceptability to the Bangalis and to the people of the world as well. The White Paper was considered to be a document of the Pakistanis and of their local collaborators. [Abu Md. Delwar Hossain]